To say that Cersaie has forged a stable reputation for itself as a global trade fair for the ceramic tile and bathroom furnishing sectors is something of an understatement following this, its 31st edition. Hospitality Interiors’ Gemma Ralph shares her highlights.

Over the past three decades, the esteemed Bologna show has presented visitors with a veritable tour de force of innovative designs and trends, offering an invaluable window of opportunity for professionals to delve into the hive of activity that is the ceramics industry.

The event’s remarkable staying power is evidenced in its visitor statistics, with more than 100,000 attending over five days, and a 4.2% increase in international visitors.

Crowds to this year’s event were faced with bolder and more adventurous designs than ever – a trend anchored in the ongoing advancements in ink jet technology.

On the more colourful end of this spectrum, floral motifs were a recurrent theme throughout the halls. From the vibrant palette of Paola Navone’s Affresco decor – which will join Bisazza’s Mosaic 2014 Collection, through the almost vintage feel of Peronda’s Boutique range, to antonioluipi’s Affreschi collection – designed in collaboration with Pietro Gaeta.

Pietro’s highly ethereal designs  were particularly notable, in part for the innovative technology used to transfer his drawings onto the surface itself. Refined in recent months, this process makes use of transfer paper, which allows the pigments of the drawing to seep directly through the pores of the surface in use, very much in the style of a traditional fresco technique.

With the development of new methods and approaches, the potential for tiles to take on the same visual properties as a wallpaper or even carpet is becoming increasingly apparent. Indeed, the show was spattered with irregular shape and pattern combinations that would more typically be seen in artwork or wallpaper designs.

Each tile design within Vives’ Vodevil range, for example, features a multitude of individual designs, patterns and colours which, when collated, create a visually rich decorative surface.

This experimental approach to colour and pattern was echoed in 41zero42’s U-colour range, which is formed using HD artisan porcelain subjected to cold glazes. The production process selected by this young team of Italian professionals  ensures that the tiles perform to the same standard as regular porcelain tiles, while offering the potential for an almost infinite range of colours. Certainly a company to watch!

Moving from colour to texture, the predominance in 3D designs was undeniable. Designed by Marcel Wanders for luxury brand Bisazza, the Frozen Garden collection of white-body enamelled tiles embodied this trend. These high-gloss hexagonal tiles – available in white and black Ceramic Crystal or Ceramic flower crystal colourways – can be freely teamed to transform walls into a striking tactile design.

Settecento also made use of a hexagonal honeycomb design for its Matiere collection, incorporating various textured tiles to enliven the monochromatic palette further.

Perhaps the biggest player in this trend, however, is Apavisa. Offering porcelain stoneware executed to the very highest standards, both technically and aesthetically, the manufacturer showcased the very best of its product portfolio. From its striking Nanocurve design, through bends, waves and bumps, Apavisa’s architectural solutions are invaluable to creating standout surface solutions.

Cersaie’s bathroom furnishings offering was equally impressive, with a great many standout designs. In terms of sanitary taps and fittings CEA’s offering was particularly notable for its sleek, minimalist lines and energy-saving technologies. New for 2014 is CEA’s Acquachiara program of showerheads which combine waterfall jets and air-water mist flows in order to enhance body wellbeing. The shower head is completed with a system of LEDs, ensuring remarkable energy saving and meeting the need for courtesy lights.

Meanwhile, Axor – the designer brand of Hansgrohe – also presented a new range of shower products at the show. Developed with the Swedish design trio, Front, and Japanese design studio, Nendo, the new Axor LampShower also fuses light and water to enhance user experience.